Relieving Your Pets From All Allergies
One of the most common reasons that pets come to see us is because of itching, licking, or chewing at themselves. This can range from minor head shaking, to full hair loss and incessant self-injury. Although these cases are very frustrating for the family, they are some of our favorites because initial successful results can often be achieved in only a few hours.
Although each case is different, we always start by taking a careful history from the owner while observing the pet in the exam room. Vital clues include when the itching started, where the body itches, what season of the year it is, the pet’s food, and the response to any previous medicines. We always check carefully for fleas and other external parasites that often contribute to itching, and look for other visual or odor clues on the skin, in the ears, the eyes, footpads and mouth and lips that might lead us to the underlying cause.
After the history and thorough physical exam are complete, our next step is to formulate a plan for further diagnostic tests if needed, and a trial of medication so that your pet can enjoy very fast relief from their itching. A large number of pets suffer from allergies to environmental substances (such as pollen), or to food. We will work to determine if either of these is the case, and will discuss the need for allergy testing or a well-designed food trial if indicated.
Our goal is to eliminate the itching entirely and permanently. In dogs and cats where this is not possible because of allergies or other issues, we will work with the family to find the best medical protocol for that individual pet and household to minimize the discomfort and reduce the itching.
Some of the strategies used to diagnose and treat itching are strategic flea control, treatment with Selamectin to eliminate the possibility of Sarcoptic mange, cultures of the ears or skin, and examining samples of the skin or ear debris looking for bacteria, yeasts, or mites. We have at our disposal an entire arsenal of medications to help control or eliminate itching such as innovative steroid products, nonsteroidals such as cyclosporine and Apoquel, topical medications such as shampoos, antihistamines, antibiotics and antifungals and oral and injectable allergy hyposensitization treatments.
Ultimately, successful management of the itchy pet involves properly identifying the underlying cause, and finding the best strategy, with the least medication, to manage it. There is nothing more rewarding then giving a pet relief from pain and discomfort, and the family a good night’s sleep when the itching subsides.